More shops in underpass linking ION, Tangs Plaza unlikely to raise retail competition

Having more retail outlets in the underpass linking ION Orchard and Tangs Plaza will not threaten the businesses above ground in the malls.

Analysts said that’s because shops along the underpass might likely cater to basic needs like an automated teller machine lobby.

But some have called for more creative use of the underground space like having interchanging upscale retail booths.

The underpass today is home to a busker and a more transient crowd that walks between ION Orchard or Orchard MRT station and Tangs Plaza.

But this would change in 2014 when the upgrading works is completed for the linkway which will accommodate shops on both sides of the tunnel.

However, some observers feel Orchard Road doesn’t need more retail shops.

Lau Chuen Wei, executive director, Singapore Retailers Association, said: “We should maybe turn our minds to look at what we’re short of on Orchard Road and not what we already have plenty of.

“For instance, we could have a nice upmarket bazaar. That may be an opportunity for young entrepreneurs and retailer wannabes to test the waters and instead of having to tie themselves down to a two or three-year lease, they could maybe just test it for three or six months.

“And it could be like a funnel so you test it there and when you think that you’re ready to take on a longer lease, then maybe you can be funnelled to the more permanent places within the mall. So it’s like a test bed.”
But as ION Orchard will manage the revamped underpass, others believe the passageway may end up housing up to 10 shops.

Each store may span 300 to 500 square feet on average.

Charles Ng, retail director, Colliers International, said: “I reckon rental there will be far higher than those say in Citylink Mall. This is because this is Orchard Road and I believe that traffic will certainly be far higher.

“It should be in the region of mid 30 dollars, say S$35 per square foot, as opposed to say Citylink Mall which is achieving about S$25 to S$28 per square foot.”

Analysts said there is no shortage of human traffic along the underpass as hundreds of people walk through here on a daily basis.

And as traffic is so heavy, observers said that shops like convenience stores, pharmacies and mid-end apparel and shoe outlets will likely be located here in the future.

This they said is so that consumers can hop in quickly, make impulse or last minute purchases, before moving on to their intended destination.

An ION Orchard spokesperson had said that the enhanced linkway would be similar to that of the ION Paterson Link, connecting ION Orchard to Wheelock Place. The passageway is also set to be widened by double the existing width to 10 metres.

The sale of the underpass has been awarded to CapitaLand and its Hong Kong partner Sun Hung Kai Properties.

The Land Transport Authority will manage the upgrading project

It has awarded the tender for the upgrading works to McConnell Dowell South East Asia.

When completed in 2014, the upgraded underpass will be managed by ION Orchard.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 16 Jun 2010

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